Sunday, October 01, 2006

Stampede Unleashed, Put up 47 Points in Shutout Win

It was quite a hard hitting, score tallying contest this weekend for the Saratoga Rugby Stampede. We were playing an Albany Old Boys team that ran the table at the eight team Saratoga Invitational Rugby Tournament and were expecting for a technical, if somewhat slower paced game than we played last week against VLaw. How hard hitting was it? Even our Coach, Mick O'Dalaigh ended up with a broken collar bone. The way it played out, Albany showed up short handed and we lent them two of our backs, and eventually our coach, so we could avoid a forfeit. Mick's collar bone was broken in a high speed collision with Stampede prop Chris Spraragen. Coach O'Dalaigh's only complaint: that Spraragen did not wrap him up for a legal tackle and was penalized on the play for the hit.
At first, we got exactly what we expected. Albany hit hard, rocked scrums, and were very hard to defend in both rucks and mauls. But we had a specific game plan in mind for the day, and it was to use our back as much as possible, and play ball control with our forwards, to wear out the Old Boys. Although we spent a good amount of time in the red zone in the first ten minutes, we couldn't punch it in, despite a few close class. Eventually, we tried a kick for points on a penalty. When it sailed wide left, I decided it would be the last time we would kick for points that day. It was time to play pod rugby...and just run like there was no tomorrow. The result was seven tries, with six conversions, and 47-0 victory. It set team records for points scored and points allowed for the team. It also unleashed the offense that the Stampede had counted on, that had struggled to only score ten points combined in the previous two games.
Now 2-2 on the season and a perfect 2-0 at home, we travel to the home turf of the state champs for the past four years, the powerful Syracuse Chargers. They beat us in a high scoring game in Saratoga in the spring, and with the hopeful return of Ben Geiss and Doug McClusky, as well as Owen Maranville (after a successful rehab second half for his season debut this weekend), the Stampede are hoping that the new look backs can continue to be deadly with the ball...either running through opponents, or laying the opposition out on defense. With how well the pack has played in three of the four games this season, it will take a total team effort to take down the Chargers.

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